Semi Ojeleye, Michael Gbinije, and Stan Okoye will participate in the 2018 NBA Summer League, which begins on Monday, 2 July.
Several other athletes of Nigerian ancestry will also be participating in the two-week long event. They include OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Daniel Ochefu (New York), Chinanu Onuaku (Houston Rockets), Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dallas Mavericks), Obi Enechioya (Detroit Pistons), Ike Nwamu (Miami Heat), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), Wesley Iwundu (Orlando Magic), and Chimezie Metu (San Antonio Spurs).
Three of the players who just wrapped up their rookie season in the NBA were able to garner some playoff experience during the 2017-2018 season. Ojeleye, Anunoby, and Adebayo played significant minutes for their respective teams and demonstrated their abilities to perform at a higher level. Their participation in the 2018 Summer League will, however, add more to their NBA mileage and improve their readiness for the 2018-2019 NBA season.
Stan Okoye, who just wrapped up his fifth season of professional basketball in Europe, will be getting his first taste of NBA action at the Summer League.
“I feel great to be able to participate in this event. This is something I’ve always wanted to do ever since my rookie year. I was never given the opportunity coming out of college. The ultimate goal is to make it to the NBA just like the rest of these guys. I feel honored to have the opportunity.”
The 6’6 swingman who played for Pallacanestro Varese in the Italian Lega Basket Serie A in the 2017-2018 season knows just how competitive the level of NBA basketball is and hopes his experience in Europe and on the Nigerian national team will count at the Summer League.
“I expect a very competitive environment. All these guys are competing for the same thing. We all want to make the NBA. I expect to go out there and use my experience. I’ve seen different types of basketball while playing on the national team and in Europe and I expect that to help me out there to be a leader,” Okoye said.
Okoye, who was a member of the elite squad that led Nigeria to the 2015 FIBA Africa Men’s Championship in Tunisia (a team that includes Gbinije), thinks having a broad will be a plus for him as he makes his debut in an NBA environment:
“I think the European style will definitely help me out a lot because the European style is very tactical and there’s a lot of IQ used in that type of basketball, so playing in the last five years I’ve been able to learn a lot and I think I can bring that to the table here. I played a lot against ex-NBA players and against elite defensive players in Europe. I think the European style of basketball helped me develop into a better basketball player all round because there’s a lot of things I had to do. They have different types of schemes; defensive rotations, and offenses. Not necessarily the same type you have in the NBA because the NBA is a lot faster, but there’s still a lot of things that can translate. The biggest thing that will translate for me is my experience and I’ll use that in a leadership role. My energy, my effort, that’s not going to change.”